Video Poker Strategy From Basics to Advanced

Jan 9, 2023

Video poker has been compared to slot games a lot as it is a similar way to play, usually sitting in front of a console. However, the return on the money you gamble is often higher and there is some skill involved, which is why it helps to learn how to win at video poker and actually approach the game with some sort of video poker strategy rather than just playing and hoping to win.


In this guide, we’ve got some tips on winning at video poker as well as a description of the game and the very basics of how to play video poker. There are many different types of video poker so understanding video poker strategy is crucial.

Understanding The Basics: How to Play Video Poker

In the most basic terms, playing video poker is a little bit like playing a slot machine. You put the money in, draw your cards, and if you have a successful poker hand there is a chance that you can win some money. The game also gives you multiple “draws” which means you can choose some cards you wish to keep and some that you want to get rid of.


Video poker is very different from other forms of poker, where you play directly against other people, instead, you are just playing with the machine. No network, no reading people as is required in poker. This can be considered a sort of crossover between a slot game and poker, with the pay tables being taken from poker games.

What Is Video Poker and How Does It Work?

Before we dive into the more advanced aspects of strategy, it helps to provide an understanding of the very basics. 


Virtually all of the video poker machines you see used today are a form of five-card draw. There are some different machines out there and these can give a different way to play but the majority of people taking their strategy to video poker are using the five-card draw games. It’s basic and simple enough to get the hang of and this helps you to have a better grasp of strategy.


There isn’t another hand to beat in video poker, winning at video poker is about matching a pay table based on certain pairs of cards and their value. Usually, a pair of jacks is the lowest hand that can win you some sort of money, and the other good poker hands increase gradually in value.


The machines show the cards being dealt and the credits are displayed to show you whether you have won or not. The pay table might also be visible on the screen or it could be on the machine itself somewhere.


The console that you play on usually allows you to slide your notes in and see the balance you have on the game. Buttons include “cash out” to take your money and “bet one credit” to allow you to increase how much you are betting help you to control the game. On top of this, there are five different buttons in the middle of the screen and each corresponds to the area where the card is “dealt” and its value can be seen. There are “Hold” buttons as well as “Deal/Draw” buttons plus “Bet Max” to increase the value of your bet.


The play starts whenever the gambler decides to push the buttons and hit the “Bet” button. If the player hits the Bet Max button this will bet their whole balance on the game.


When the bet has been made, the cards are dealt on the screen. These are shown face up so that the player can analyze their cards. There is then a decision to “Hold” a card if you want to keep them. The rest get discarded and drawn again. If the player wants to, they can even get rid of all of their cards.


Once the decisions have been made on which cards to hold (this is partially where the skill is required) then the “Deal” or “Draw” button allows you to discard some cards and then keep the rest of the cards, and deal some new ones. The new cards are the final cards.


From here, it is worked out whether you are a winner or not, and you will either get some more credits added to your account or you will have to play again using your own credits.


Some older video poker games still need you to physically press a button to discard of the cards. It depends on the machine you are using, and playing a couple of games will allow you to get to grips with the interface. Some of the machines even have an “Instructions” section either within the game or printed on the machine. 

What Makes Video Poker Special?

Video poker is a special game when compared to a lot of the other casino games and slot games that people can play. One of the reasons for this is that there is more of a chance to have a strategy and impact the outcome of the game. There is not as much control with things like slot games, where the outcome of each game is totally random. A video poker strategy can help you to try and make a profit and be patient as the game goes on.


Video poker is also special because of the many different types and variations. Of course, as time has gone on it has also reached the stage where people can play video poker on their mobile devices and with a number of different operators, too. It has become a mainstream game and it is worth considering your strategy. 

Types of Video Poker

It’s important to understand all of the different types of video poker, this will help to inform the strategy and the way that you play.


Jacks or Better is the simplest of all online video poker games. The lowest-paid hand is a pair of jacks, but you also win a pair of queens, kings, or aces. So, you are aiming to get at least a pair of face cards. There is a bonus game within. A lot of the time in Jacks or Better games you receive five cards with only one of them face up. You are then trying to choose a high-value card that can potentially boost the winnings.


Deuces Wild is another variation that uses the 52-card deck. The Twos serve as Wild Cards which allow you to complete winning hands, replacing the card you would need with a Deuce. The lowest of the winning hands is Three of a Kind, Four Deuces and Royal Flush are higher winnings. You can also get Five of a Kind due to the fact you can use the Twos to complete larger hands. The returns don’t tend to be so high on this but there is a chance to make gradual profits.


You will find that there are a few different variations of the game, too.


Tens or Better. Tens or better uses one deck and the winning hands are in the same order as Jacks or Better, however, there is more chance of winning because the lowest paying hand is Tens.


You can also get a lot of different payouts for Full House and Flush, but the payouts aren’t as big as some of the other games which give bigger jackpots. Put simply, Tens or Better means that you can win more often but the better cards don’t pay off quite as well. Many of these games also have added bonuses so it might be possible to double your winnings.


Bonus Poker is another variation based on Jacks or Better, but on Four of a Kind hands, it gives much bigger payouts. Four Aces can even give you 80X wins on your original bet. This means there is the potential to win excellent returns on your money. The payout for a Full House is 8 times the bet, and for a flush, you get 5 times the bet which is not super generous. Bonus poker can vary a lot and many different operators offer different forms of the game so be sure to read the benefits first. 


Aces and Faces poker. This is a little more complex and the payouts start from the same as Jacks or Better cards. If you get a straight flush hand you can get 80/1 and 50/1 benefits.


Joker Poker is another variation that is good for novices because it is very simple, it is played with a standard deck of 52 cards as well as the extra Joker card. The Joker is the Wild Card and this can be used to compete with other hands including the option to make a Five-of-a-Kind hand which can cause much higher winnings too. There are quite a few different examples of Joker Poker. There are a lot of different companies offering video poker games so be sure to remember that each may have its own slightly different rules, bonuses, or extra payouts.

How To Win At Video Poker?

Okay, so it isn’t as simple as something that can be condensed into a one-line answer. It is worth tailoring your own strategy and considering what your ambitions are for the game. Remember that it is more possible to make a profit on video poker than a lot of the other table or casino games.


How can you win at video poker? There are some strategy tips below, specific tips for the Jacks or Better variety of the game. Everyone should tweak and build their own strategy based on the type of video poker they are playing. Remember there are multiple games.


Though there is no guarantee on the sort of strategy that is going to get a return for you, approaching without a strategy almost never yields the best possible results.  Here are some tips on how to win at video poker:


  • Always ensure that you understand the game and what the pay tables mean, and how you can get potential wins from the game, such as if you know whether there are Wilds.

  • Don’t always go for glory. There are scenarios where you can take risks in video poker to try and get a bigger prize. This doesn’t always yield the best results and it can reduce the chances of getting any sort of win.

  • Try to build up pairs if it is profitable. If the game gives more than an even odds return on pairs then it is often a good idea to hold pairs and try to build upon these in the second spin, building to three, four, or five of a kind.

  • Don’t be afraid to discard all of your cards. On the first spin, if nothing comes out that is worth keeping then there is nothing wrong with spinning again. It’s not ideal, but there is no point in keeping a card that is not particularly beneficial for you.

  • If nothing else comes up, hold cards that are Jack or higher. This increases your chances of getting a pair and therefore getting some form of win.


Stick to your strategy. Most strategies are designed to be long-term, so if it doesn’t work for the first few spins, that doesn’t mean the strategy isn’t going to continue to work in the long term. 

Jacks or Better Video Poker Strategy

Jacks or Better is one of the most common ways to play video poker and this means that a lot of people who are looking for a video poker strategy and trying to win the game are looking for the best ways to improve their chances via strategy.


When a user has four cards to a straight or a flush, they should always hold them and only draw the one last card in the hope that it completes their hand, especially if you are playing a game where there are bonus Wild cards.


Hold three cards if you are 3/5ths of the way to either Straight Flush or Royal Flush, it is worth holding these in the chances that you are lucky with the remaining two.

When you are drawn a pair of cards (assuming this is a prize) you should usually hold them. This guarantees you a prize but also increases the chance of getting Three of a Kind or even Four of a Kind (Five of a Kind if this is possible in the game you are playing).


If you don’t have any matching cards then you should choose to hold the cards that are of a higher or equal value to a Jack, which means you might still get a pair on your second draw.


If you don’t have any combinations or anything that is a Jack or higher, then there is every chance that 

Find the Best Pay Table

Pay tables are where you find information about how much money you can receive from every different hand. For instance, how much you are paid for a Royal Flush and how much you are paid for a Straight, Pair, Three of a Kind, Four of a Kind…


Pay close attention to this and tie it closely to your strategy. For instance, if you are trying to get as many pairs as you possibly can to keep the winnings ticking over, then opt for a game where the pair provides you with a good return on your bet. If you are going to try to get a much bigger win then it is worth trying to use the paytable to your advantage.


Whatever game you are playing it is worth checking the pay table. 

Slow Down

You don’t have to constantly look to make the biggest profit possible all the time. You can take it slowly, and try to gradually build profit. It isn’t like playing online bingo games where you are hoping for big wins the whole time.


A lot of these games have high RTP rates which mean there are a lot of ways that you can take gradual profits rather than having to win big for it to be a successful day. Sometimes in gambling, you also need to take a little break, and this is just one part of the world of video poker.

Play the Progressive Jackpot Video Poker Machines

One of the ways that you can potentially boost the chances of a really big win is to play progressive jackpot games. These are the kind of games that will eventually trigger a huge jackpot, often built up over months from everyone who has played the video poker game. While these aren’t triggered that often, you have to be in it to win it, and the fact that the progressive jackpot is something of an added bonus means there is no disadvantage to joining the games with progressive jackpots.

Keep an Eye on the Bonuses

There are a lot of video poker companies out there competing for your custom and this means that there will be plenty of them offering bonuses. For instance, you might get a signup bonus when you start an account. There are a lot of fun table games out there that compete with one another so you should always check the bonuses available. A lot of this comes in the form of matched deposits, so when you deposit some money, you get extra credits to bet with.

Enjoy The Game and Play Responsibly

The most important thing to remember when playing any casino game is to enjoy it and be responsible. There is also plenty of support available for people who have any questions or queries.


Video poker games, just like any of the other forms of online gambling, should be seen as a bit of fun for people who play. Only gamble what you can afford to lose on these games and ensure that you keep it fun at all times. This should be about enjoyment and not relying on financial wins, but having a strategy is a great way to try and maximize some sort of returns from the game.


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